The Werkbundsiedlung is an experimental housing scheme in the outskirts of Vienna originally constructed under the guidance of the architect Josef Frank between 1930 and 1932.
Founded in Germany in 1907 the Deutscher Werkbund, or German Work Federation, was an association of architects, designers, and industrialists interested in modern architecture and industrial design, an influential group that later became important in the creation of the Bauhaus school of design.
In 1930 Vienna’s socialist city council organized a Werkbund Housing Exhibition and invited a group of modernist architects to design and build an affordable, two-bedroom family house in a small space. The city officials were hoping that the new homes would provide an inventive alternative to the enormous housing blocks constructed in the 1920s, like for example the Karl-Marx-Hof.
And one of the impulses for this development in Vienna was the construction of the similar Weissenhof Estate in Germany a few years earlier.
The Vienna Werkbund Estate in the 13th district had a total of 76 buildings and was built between 1929 and 1932 under the direction of Josef Frank. Prominent architects included Josef Hoffmann, Clemens Holzmeister and Adolf Loos.
The estate has been planned to be built on a flat area in another part of the Viennese suburbs, but eventually it was developed in a hilly part of the countryside, which meant that development costs for what were meant to be affordable family homes increased. For example, it was necessary to create special foundations and cellars for the buildings, which hadn't previously been planned.
Some of the buildings were sold, but most were taken over by the Vienna City Council shortly before the Second World War and used as rental accommodation. Six of the houses were destroyed during the war but the rest are still inhabited.
In the 1980s, 56 of the 70 houses have been renovated by Adolf Krischanitz. He has documented the renovation in a book issued in 1989. Since about one-third of the building was privately owned, could then not all homes are being renovated.